In my life there was always a river running through it somewhere. If you grow up in London, as I did, the River Thames is not so far. This photo shows the Thames in the lower reaches at Rainham on its way to the sea. My part of London was near the London docks. I had two uncles that were both dockers all their working lives. The London docks began just below Tower Bridge. The ships would come and go with their cargoes. When a docker finished his daily work he would travel home with the smell on his clothes from the goods he had been uploading from the ships. Showers at the docks for the men? No, these were the days after the war, 1950’s and 60’s and so the men travelled home from the work. Uploading fruit and other food was not so bad, but uploading fertiliser, known as guano to the dockers, meant that my uncle would have a thorough wash when he arrived home as it stunk for use of a better word. After all guano is the excrement of birds used for fertiliser and not just a few pieces, but tons of it.
At school we were taught all the uses of a river, mainly the Thames. We even had a beach when I was a kid, at the tower of London. I remember having a day there with my mum. We would swim in the Thames and it is a wonder that we survived with all the impurities the river had, but they were the good old days, before health and safety was the daily word.
And now I move on to Switzerland, the River Aare. It flows through our local town of Solothurn. It is the longest river enclosed in Switzerland and eventually arrives at the River Rhine from its source in the Aare glacier of the Bernese alps flowing also through the capital town of Bern on its way. Something different from the London Thames, although the Thames also has its agricultural areas. The Aare flows just along the path to where I live and I often wheel along the banks in my chair into town. Just today I met two men who greeted me and I saw that they had oxygen tanks that they were putting into their car. They were also dressed for the role so I asked if they are going to dive in the river. They told me they had already been in the river. They were probably members of our diving club.
Of course even the Aare has its industrial part. It flows through Basel, a Swiss town and where most of the chemical companies are situated, Novartis, Roche and BASF to name a couple. This is the reason why now and again the clear bluish water of the Aare might become green in that part of Switzerland and not advisable for swimming.
In Switzerland you are never far from a river. My son lives near Schaffhausen, place of the famous Rhein Falls.
I took the photo when we were visiting my son and wife. We made an excursion to the falls and you can see there is a bit more than just a river running through it. You can also see industrial buildings high above the river. Where there is water there is industry.
Of course we harness our water in Switzerland for hydro electric power, as in most countries.
If a river runs through it, it can be fun.